Éire’s Viking Character Interview with Agnarr
Agnarr Halvardson is a Viking from Nordweg –an Ostman. We have the pleasure of his company today.
Hello, Agnarr! I enjoy visiting different countries and learning about their cultures and trades. You’ve traveled a lot. Do you enjoy those things?
Different people did not interest me. I wanted only to gain wealth through what they had and take it back to my family, my village.
When did you first realize you belonged in Éire?
*He blows out a breath and rocks on the balls of his feet.* The first time I saw the land, I knew it would make a good home for me and my family, if they would come. I wanted to return for the land. Having met Cowan—I knew that the men there were much like the men I knew in Balestrand. I felt I could make a life for myself. And so I have.
Let’s split straws: did you return for Éire or Eir?
Straws? I do not split straws. It is a waste of time. Do not tell Cowan, but his wife, my former trell, was the first reason I returned, ja. I thought my wyrd—my fate—was to be with her. I was wrong. *Shrugs* This does not happen often.
Are names significant to you? What does your name mean?
Names? They are names. The one a man earns is significant, but the one he gains from his father is how he is known. My name means I am fierce in battle.
Was it challenging for you to learn Gaelic?
Ja! *Shakes his head* But there was no choice.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen?
Strangest? Strangest thing I have yet seen was a thunderstorm in midwinter. *Grimacing, he rolls his shoulders.* It was uncanny.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen?
Watching a man grown attack a gate with his head. Erik the Hard-Headed earned his name well, that day.
How much of the Viking culture is influenced by the struggle to survive harsh conditions?
My people are strong. We are strong, I think, because of the land in which we are born. Culture? Our way of life? I do not know for certain, but I do know that not many from warmer countries could survive in Nordweg. Our stories tell of our forefathers, the gods, and they teach good lessons. Would we need these lessons if we lived in a softer climate? I do not know. But I have heard many stories in Éire, and they are very different from what I grew up hearing.
(Note from Sandi: Sorry, Jess – Agnarr doesn’t quite get the concept of culture, but he did his best. lol)
The daily routine on a skipniu must be grueling. Can you share what it was like?
*Grins at her use of the proper term.* Well, the rowing is grueling, ja. We sit on chests or benches and row as the sun climbs in the sky. But when the sails are full, we sit. We wait. It is dirty, on a skipniu, and a man gets tired of salted fish. It is crowded, too, when we have had a good raid.
How many raids would a man take part in before retiring?
Eh. It is not the raids, but the summers away. Each man has his own destiny to follow. Some die before they reach the shore, others grow old enough to rest by the fire or go fishing.
Do you count age by years? Seasons? Who is considered old?
*Flexes his arms – just a little.* We are civilized and count by years. When a man has seen fifty years, he is considered old. I, myself, am in my middle years, as I am over thirty.
How is it determined if a couple may marry and at what age do most people marry for the first time?
A girl may marry for the first time by the age of sixteen, unless there is something wrong with her. It is the duty of her father to find her a husband, and he does so by conferring with men of age or by the fathers of younger men. It is a fair business, and we say that once a woman is wedded, she is then to be dreaded. *chuckles* It is usually a woman who will end a marriage. It is not hard for her to do, if she has cause.
What are the rules of courtship?
A man and a woman, once betrothed, may not spend time alone together. It is unseemly. It is very different in Éire, I’ve found, and I think the Éire-landers make more sense. A man has to have money for his bride, both for the bride price and for the morning after the wedding. *winks*
The Vikings consider marriage to be a permanent relationship, quite independent of emotion. How does one pick a wife? What traits are most admired?
It is a permanent relationship unless the husband does not do his duty for the wife. Then she may divorce him. I, however, will not fail my wife in any way. *nods* Marriage is for the mutual support of the families, you know. It is not a personal thing – it is for all of them. A bride will always belong to her family, so if she goes to a man, her family wants him to be of good standing, so that will improve their status as well. Halvard’s family has always had high status among our people, for example, and there were many fathers who wished to wed their daughters to Halvard’s sons.
A wife’s chief duty is to see to it that the family has food and clothing to last during our long winters. Within the walls of the langhús, she has authority and control in that regard. So if the girl is smart, good with her loom, and can make good cheeses, she is a good candidate for a wife.
What is the average family size in the communities where you’ve lived? Are families in Nordweg smaller than families in Éire? Is that due to the weather?
It is a true thing that fully one out of every three people born in Nordweg do not reach an age of maturity. This is why I am settling in Éire. There is better land and a longer growing season—one could see that by seeing what the Islanders stored for the winters, there. It is a prosperous land. I have seen many more small children in Éire than I was accustomed to seeing in Nordweg. I plan on having many, myself. *nods*
Why do you suppose Charis and Cowan did not adopt more children?
Who knows why Charis does or does not do anything? *shrugs* The woman makes no sense to me. *He smiles reflectively.* It is possible that they found Aislinn to be a handful all on her own…
Vikings seem to have less restrictive gender roles than many more modern societies. Would you agree?
The women of Nordweg are very strong and do have much control in society, yes. As to modern? What is modern? I think they do well, and they do not complain.
Is falling in love considered disadvantageous or is it merely odd?
Love? A feeling? This is something I am still trying to understand. Love is not good sense. A woman loves her children. Her parents. But it is not beneficial and serves no purpose for a warrior. Aislinn, though, finds this feeling to be important. I still do not know why.
Tell us about Aislinn.
*His expression stills for a moment before he frowns, though there is a twinkle in his eye.* She is a kvinn medisin – a healer. She would say a physician. She is a good one, too. I have not seen her make cheese, but she does do fine spinning and weaving. Through Cowan, she is related to a king of her people. I was surprised when I found she was unwed, but they do things differently in Éire.
At first, I thought she was a goddess. I learned differently soon. She is much like Charis and I do not want to touch the sharp edge of her tongue. *He allows himself a small smile, here.*
I do think she would make a good wife. She is tall and strong and would bear fine sons, I am sure of it. *shrugs* I am setting aside gold for a bride price, but her father will not compel her to wed me. I will have to convince her on my own.